Wednesday, 26 March 2014

New at Fairhaven Garden – Access for All Afloat in the Norfolk Broads

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden at South Walsham, in the Norfolk Broads, will be offering boat trips for the first time for visitors in wheelchairs from Mother’s Day, Sunday, March 30.

The Fairhaven Garden Trust has purchased a wheelchair accessible boat for £20,000, supported by a £2,000 grant from Geoffrey Watling Charity. The boated named Primula, after the garden’s famous candelabra primulas, can take up to 12 passengers and will run alongside existing boat Primrose.

Twenty-minute boat trips run daily from Mother’s Day to the end of October on Fairhaven’s private broad and South Walsham Outer Broad. Fifty-minute excursions are also offered every day at 12noon and 2.30pm down the river to St. Benet's Abbey. Visitors can see local wildlife including kingfishers, grebes and swans and possibly an otter and find out about the history of the local area. Short boat trips cost £3.75 adult and £2.75 child and St Benet’s Abbey is adult £6.75 and child £4.75.

John Brownlee with driver, Peter Smith
Louise Rout, Manager Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden said: “Purchasing Primula has fulfilled our long held ambition to offer access for all afloat. We hope that our friends and members, along with visitors to the Broads, will enjoy this additional facility and get close to nature out on the water. I would like to thank Geoffrey Watling Charity for their support and also would like thank JB Boats who sold Primula to us.”

Barbara Greasely, Chairman Broads Tourism and Director Norfolk Boads Direct said: “Almost two years ago I had a fall and badly broke my leg. This resulted in me being in a wheelchair for a short time. It wasn’t until that point that I realised how vulnerable and left out people in wheelchairs can feel. It really is true that people tend to speak to the person pushing you.”

“My first outing after coming out of hospital was to Fairhaven. My husband pushed me around the accessible paths, but I would have loved a boat trip out on the broad. I am really delighted that Fairhaven now has a passenger boat suitable for wheelchair users. This really is a great asset to the Broads tourism offer and I would like to congratulate Louise and her team for their persistence in bringing this great facility to Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden.”

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden is at South Walsham, nine miles east of Norwich, signposted off A47 at B1140 junction, t. 01603 270449,,

The garden is open daily all year 10am to 5pm (closed Christmas Day and closes 4pm during the winter), also open Wednesdays until 9pm from May to the end of August. Entry is £6.10 adult, £5.60 concessions and £3.60 child (under 5 free). Free entry to tearoom, gift shop and plant sales.

There is wheelchair access throughout the garden, including a Sensory Garden and boat trips (additional charge). Visitors requiring special facilities are advised to telephone in advance, mobility scooters available.

Dogs are welcome on leads; small charge to cover poop scoop.